Tips to Physically Manage an Anxious Spiral

December 5, 2023 Michaela Jarvis

Finding yourself falling into an anxious spiral is scary, and it's easy to feel out of control. Luckily, there are some physical skills you can utilize to fight off this feeling. Sometimes, in an anxious spiral, it's difficult to think clearly, so when I face those issues, I tend to lean into physical practices, meaning that I'm doing an action using my body and not necessarily my mind to find comfort. Using physical practices is a great way to center yourself and regain emotional balance.

Exercise to Combat an Anxious Spiral

When saying "physical practices," it's no surprise that moving your body is a great recentering technique for an anxiety spiral. This doesn't mean a full marathon is the only solution, but sometimes, a little dance break is the perfect remedy to release nervous energy. It may feel a little silly, but throwing on a song you like will also help lift your spirits. A few minutes of moving around is not only an outlet, but it's also distracting.

Distraction Techniques for Anxious Spirals

Speaking of distraction, distraction is a great way to shift focus off an anxious spiral. There are plenty of creative ways to distract the mind. Here, I share some examples of ways I have used distraction to calm myself when I feel a spiral coming on.

Cold Therapy for an Anxiety Spiral

I used to hate being cold, but in the last few years, I've found comfort in the cold. When I'm anxious, my heart rate spikes. Cold temperatures help bring down my elevated heart rate pretty quickly. If it's cold outside, I'll spend a few minutes braving the weather. I also used to use bowls of ice water to dunk my face, but more recently, I've found the most convenient way for me to get my cold fix is to hop into a cold shower. I know it sounds terrible, but trust me, after a few cold showers, the appreciation starts to grow.

Breathing Through an Anxious Spiral

My favorite practice is one I use almost daily: breathing exercises. It's one of the easiest ways to physically incorporate the body because it can be done almost anywhere at any time, whether that's at work, in bed, or standing in line at the store. For me, it's an almost immediate remedy for relief. I breathe in deeply, filling up my chest as much as I can, then hold for a few moments before exhaling slowly. I repeat this cycle a few times over the next couple of minutes. It's shocking how quick and effective this is for me. I can almost feel the wave of comfort flowing from my head to my toes after a few cycles.

Personally, incorporating my body in combating an anxious spiral has been successful. Beyond the comfort it brings me, it has the bonus of making me feel connected and in tune with my body, which is difficult when anxiety takes over my thoughts. Using these skills has been a great way to distract, regulate, and regain a sense of balance, letting me get back to enjoying my day.

APA Reference
Jarvis, M. (2023, December 5). Tips to Physically Manage an Anxious Spiral, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 19 from

Author: Michaela Jarvis

Michaela Jarvis is continuously on her road to self-improvement while managing bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and the life challenges that come with being in your 20s. Find Michaela on Instagram, LinkedIn, and her website.

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